Dec 14 – Memorial for St. John of the Cross, priest, religious, doctor of the Church
John (1675–1726) was born in poverty. He cared for the poor in the hospital in Medina. He became a lay Carmelite brother in 1563 at age 21, though he lived stricter than their Rule. He studied at Salamanca. He was ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25.
He was persuaded by St. Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced (or barefoot) reform within the Carmelite Order, and took on the name John of the Cross. He was a master of novices, and spiritual director and confessor at St. Teresa’s convent. His reforms did not sit well with some of his brothers, and he was ordered to return to Medina. He refused and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, and escaped after nine months.
He was vicar-general of Andalusia. His reforms revitalized the Order. He was a great contemplative and spiritual writer. On Aug 24, 1926, he was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI.
- Patron Saint Index
Apart from me, all is nothing.
I am the Lord, unrivalled,
I form the light and create the dark.
I make good fortune and create calamity,
it is I, the Lord, who do all this.
Send victory like a dew, you heavens,
and let the clouds rain it down.
Let the earth open
for salvation to spring up.
Let deliverance, too, bud forth
which I, the Lord, shall create.
Yes, thus says the Lord,
creator of the heavens,
who is God,
who formed the earth and made it,
who set it firm,
created it no chaos,
but a place to be lived in:
‘I am the Lord, unrivalled:
there is no other god besides me.
A God of integrity and a saviour:
there is none apart from me.
Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth,
for I am God unrivalled.
‘By my own self I swear it;
what comes from my mouth is truth,
a word irrevocable:
before me every knee shall bend,
by me every tongue shall swear,
saying, “From the Lord alone
come victory and strength.”
To him shall come, ashamed,
all who raged against him.
Victorious and glorious through the Lord shall be
all the descendants of Israel.’
John, summoning two of his disciples, sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else?’ When the men reached Jesus they said, ‘John the Baptist has sent us to you, to ask, “Are you the one who is to come or have we to wait for someone else?”’ It was just then that he cured many people of diseases and afflictions and of evil spirits, and gave the gift of sight to many who were blind. Then he gave the messengers their answer, ‘Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the Good News is proclaimed to the poor and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’
And happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.
There are days when I find myself questioning the Lord, asking Him what is it he wants of me and why He keeps sending me people who seem to always want a piece of me. This past weekend, I actually had the time and ‘space’ to host some friends at home and to spend a whole day (after mass) with my soulmate, just walking in town and taking in the sights and sounds of the usual festive crowd. Then, after running some errands, we looked at each other and decided that we had had enough and wanted to enjoy the sanctuary of my quiet, peaceful home. No dinner out even.
I reckon that the Lord is preparing me for a rather eventful Christmas. We decided to help out at a one-day kids’ camp and already, I have been asked to perform a simple role as a ‘king’, as well as sing in the choir for mass. In our fund-raising efforts for our parish, we are starting to ramp up preparations for a musical in February. The committee has already charted out the work ahead and it is not going to be a ‘walk in the park’. On top of that, there will be the usual Christmas celebrations at CSC, which we always look forward to. And somewhere in between, work continues to happen.
It was perhaps only a few years ago that I learned to surrender a lot of what I do to the Lord. I figured that there was no point agonizing over things all the time, but to just trust that if I wanted to be truly happy on a regular basis, then I needed to trust that the Lord would work everything out eventually. All I needed was to have faith in Him.
As we prepare for the coming of our Saviour, I am also praying for a fresh outpouring of His blessings and graces upon me. There are plans ahead for me in my journey of service and while I am quietly confident, I am also starting to get anxious. But as Isaiah proclaims in the first reading, “From the Lord alone come victory and strength”. I know that on my own, I cannot achieve what it is that the Lord has in store for me. But with prayer, and by opening up my heart so that the Lord can work His miracles in me, I will be able to overcome all anxiety and continue serving in His vineyard, according to His will.
Brothers and sisters, let us all pray that He continues to fill us each day of our lives.
(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Lord, we pray that you always be with us on our own journeys as we explore the rich tapestry of our lives.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the times when you have stood by us in faith, never letting us down.